Monday, 20 August 2007
PM Lee's NDR Speech 2007 - My Feelings
I used to listen to every one of MM Lee Kuan Yew's NDR speeches when he was the PM and each time I could not help but praise him. Every one of his speeches drove something into my heart. I believed in him. I trusted in what he said. Tonight I saw him sitting right in front, facing his own son and watching very enthusiastically and anxiously. He looked very healthy and more alert than SM Goh. I think he may outlive his own sons.
I have listened to every one of SM Goh Chok Tong's NDR speeches when he was the PM, from 1990 to 2004, and most of the time I was entertained by his jokes but put off by his name-callings and branding of his own fellow citizens, but I had looked forward to what he had promised us, e.g. the "Swiss Standard of Living", "More Good Years", "Fun City", "Gracious Living", "Retire Graciously", "World Cup 2010", etc. I believed in him but he let us down on several promises, especially the "Swiss Standard of Living" . Tonight I saw him there, sitting next to MM Lee, looking very old and haggard. I think it is time that he retires for his own good. What is the use of accumulating so much wealth? I think he already has too many peanuts to count together with his quick-witted wife.
I listened to PM Lee Hsien Loong's maiden speech in 2004 but, halfway through, I gave up and went to sleep. Nevertheless, I specifically remembered what he said about giving us a more open society. Then within the next two to three years what we knew was that political pod casting was banned, political websites had to be licensed, students were charged under the Sedition Act for "stirring up racial hatred" in the cyberspace, Mr Brown was given a thrashing, and 18 new laws and amendments were passed in Parliament to tighten the noose even tighter on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, the Penal Code was amended, the Constitution was also amended, and last but not least, one NCMP was aggressively and mercilessly censured in Parliament for trying to stir up a "conspiracy theory" which she obviously, to me, was not trying to do so.
As I had not been impressed by his maiden speech in 2004, I did not listen to his 2nd and 3rd speeches in 2005 and 2006 respectively, though I did briefly read the written texts in the next day's newspapers. They had never made any impact upon my heart nor my mind. I knew he was trying his best, but I simply could not connect with him. I didn't know why then.
Tonight I listened to both his Mandarin and English speeches. I was impressed and inspired by the elaborate plans he put forth regarding the new CPF adjustments catering for old age and retirement, new legislation for re-employment of older workers, redevelopment of old HDB estates and Ponggol 21 Plus, the increase in university intakes by 30%, and the building of a 4th University or may be also a 5th. On the whole, it looked good on the surface. However, I still felt that something was missing. My gut feeling told me that something very important was missing. What is it?
All that he had said, putting so much efforts and emphasis, all boils down to mere hardware. I cannot blame him. He is a technocrat brought up with a golden spoon and silver linings, smooth sailing all the time, except for his brief fight with cancer and the untimely death of his first wife. He simply does not have that software, the multiplier, the X factor in him. Though I saw him nearly came down with tears three times, when his emotion pushed up to his head while something that he said had obviously hit hard into his inner self, his psyche, or his conscience, he was still not able to connect with me. I also saw him looking straight towards the direction where his father was sitting. Perhaps that was the trigger that caused his emotion to rise. I guess there must be something that is hidden inside him. Something that he could not simply throw out because of his status and stature. I had wished that he could confide with me and I would gladly help him ease and release his pain forever. He is human after all.
I pity him. I empathise with him. His job is not easy. Being sandwiched between his own knuckle-duster father and the present sad state of affair that the country is facing (i.e. the predicaments being faced by most of the common folks, the lower and the middle income groups and the jobless), yet he has to pretend that everything is going so well. I think it is not easy for him to bear such a heavy weight upon himself with his father breathing down his neck most of the time. Tonight he again called for the rich to make donations, though his previous call for donations to charities had fallen upon his own ministers' deaf ears. That was only a few months ago. At that time, and till today, nobody seems to want to support him along his compassionate line, except the kind hearted Dr Lily Neo. Yet the show has to go on.
I really pity him. I think he is trying his very best for all of us. So, I would like to give him a chance. My only wish is that what he had said tonight would be properly implemented to the letter, instead of going the opposite direction again. As the saying goes: "Once bitten, twice shy." I dare not trust him again because four years ago, during his maiden speech as the new PM, he had promised us a more open society but his follow-up actions showed us exactly the opposite. So, how can I trust him again?
However, I will still give him a chance. Yes, a second chance to prove himself, to keep to his words. I hope he would keep to his words. I really do. Our future is in his hands. We have no one to turn to except him. We are depending solely upon him to fulfill our aspirations and to see to our interests. We have no choice. We have only one Leader, one PAP and one Government. We simply have no other choice. Our only choice is suffering in silence!
The Garuda - 19 Aug 2007